After a tortuous weekend with Torque, we are now re-enacting a slow motion reunion run with Unity. Unfortunately, it means we lost two weeks, but hopefully we can transmute our disappointment into an awesome prototype. ^]^
And if you haven’t already, you should check out The Escapist’s Extra Credits.
Just for fun, here are some of the alternative Latin names I considered for the game:
Post Bellum (After the War)
A Priori (From what comes before)
Ab initio (fom the beginning)
Ad Vitam (for life)
Arcana Imperii (secrets of the empire)
Esto Perpetue (May you last forever)
Genus Loci (Guardian spirit of the place)
Memento vivere (Reminder of life)
Natura in minima maxima (Nature is Greatest in the Smallest Things)
And some of the keywords I came up with:
The games that were my inspiration:
Bubble Ghost : I remember this as being an insanely hard game. You must blow a bubble safely through a treacherous maze of objects, without it being burst. It required god-like reflexes on the part of the player. It is my hope that Genus Loci, while providing some challenge, will be a lot more accessible.
Soul Bubbles : A criminally underrated DS game. In Soul Bubbles, you play a soul herder who captures souls in a bubble and must safely guide them through gorgeous and unique worlds. Very cleverly makes use of the DS’s touch controls. A bit closer to the kind of experience I wish to generate for the player of Genus Loci.
Flower : Surprisingly, I hadn’t played Flower when I originally came up with idea, but recently had the pleasure of finally finishing it and there are a lot of parallels. You are a flower petal floating around touching other flowers, opening them up and gathering a petal from each of them until you are mass of multi-coloured petals, whirling through different landscapes. It’impossible to do this game textual justice… It touches upon some similar themes that I wanted to explore (how nature interacts with human constructs, etc) and does achieve a similar player experience that I want for Genus Loci, however I do want the player to experience more conflict/obstacles then is available in Flower.
Spider : Secret of Bryce Mansion : This game achieves every writer’s dream: a story completely told through ‘showing’ instead of ‘telling’. Also has a damn fun mechanic – you are a spider crawling around an abandoned mansion, creating webs to capture & eat delicious bugs. I can only hope that Genus Loci will be able to achieve similar awesomeness through its mis en scene. This article explains just why this game is so awesome.
Braid : Gets a mention because of its beautiful art style and music, that encourage the player to engage in the game, in a contemplative, reflectful manner. We can but aim for the same for Genus Loci.
Aquaria : Another beautiful game, Aquaria has become my go-to-game for inspiration; it was created by two people over two years and is an awesome example of what we can all achieve if we put our minds to it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two animated movies: Lightyears & Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, both which were a frequent double-billing in my childhood and which also feature themes of nature vs man in post-apopalyptic settings.
Also found this excellent site with interesting articles.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with game development quote of the week:
“You’ll be fine as long as you make it exactly as I see it in my head.”
Genus Loci has been green-lighted! HERE WE GO!
We’re concentrating on building a rough prototype right now and are going to try using Torque – it has the advantages of being specifically for 2D, but being a more complete engine (having physics, particles, collisions, etc), but the disadvantage that none of us are very familiar with it it. If we we crash & burn using Torque, we will be moving to Unity, as at least we’re comfortable with it.
Right now, I’m looking at figuring out how collisions work with Torque, Simone’s looking at getting seed movement going and Natalie starting on the assets.
Wish us luck!
Concepts for the plant. Not happy with them, but finally feel I’m making some progress.
Here’s my first attempt for a level design:
Things I have learnt: I suck at level design. Suck bad. This is not a good thing, as this game will definitely depend on engaging design. I’m trying to crash course myself in level design, but it may be best if someone else handles the design – but on the plus side if I end up doing it, I will gain some badly needed practice.
Got a little distracted by needing to do a task and schedule breakdown for Wednesday’s pitch. It’s mostly finger in the wind stuff, but I’ve tried to be accurate as possible:
I’ve also realised that I’ve neglected to say that the game will be 2D and that it will probably be built in Unity. I say “probably”, as because Unity has many issues with getting 2D to work properly and if I end working by myself or doing the programming, I might try to using Torque 2D – which while I have little experience with, is built specifically for 2D games.
Upon reflection, I think that the puzzle elements won’t enhance the player’s experience and are also blowing out the scope of the game. I’m cutting them – they may be re-instated later, if after play testing, there is a need for something *more*.
Still working on plant concept art. Finding it hard to get the look right. Trying out both cactus and fungi style plants.
Level designs coming soon (hopefully).
There is quite an extensive backstory to the game, but before I get into that, I must stress that the story is only to be inferred to the player non-verbally via heavy mis en scene .
The setting is in alternative-history 1940s, in a place that was a community of Occamists (magic users – think alchemists, but they pursued silver instead of gold), but has been devestated by a terrible anti-magic device that has killed all life within. The seed is first thing alive to enter the complex in years. The player helps nature reclaim the complex via planting the seeds. All the while the player explores the ruins and slowly reveals a terrible secret about the Occamists and the device that destroyed the complex. I’m not going to reveal anymore at this stage!
Concept art for the seed:
Some concept art for the environments, drawn from photos of Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Detroit, etc.
Next up: Complex level-to-level flow, puzzle examples, plant concept art and level layouts. Phew.
It’s that time of year again: when the leaves fall off the trees, uni starts once more and young women’s thoughts of fancy turn to their post-apopalyptic tales of despair, renewal and design.
My pitch for a game at uni this year is something I’ve temporarily titled “Genus Loci” which is Latin for “spirit of the place” (ambience) or a guardian spirit.
Roughly, the player uses wind to control a seed and guide it past obstacles (such as water, fire, oil and contrary wind sources) to a safe spot for it plant and grow. Plants also function as save points and can be used to launch a new seed, should the current one be destroyed.
In each level, seeds must be planted in all safe spots and a small puzzle must be solved to progress to the next level. Completing all levels will ‘win’ the game.
I have created a small video to visually explain the gameplay – NOT the art style/direction. I will put up some concept art later to illustrate what I have in mind for it aesthetically.
Click the image to see the video.